I was disappointed by the blackface/brownface photos that have emerged recently in the media. They are hurtful images. I, like many of my constituents in York South-Weston, have dealt with racism in our daily lives. It is hurtful, it is disappointing, and it keeps Canadians of colour from achieving their full potential.
I am encouraged by the fact that Justin Trudeau has unequivocally apologized for his actions and acknowledged that his actions have hurt racialized Canadians. However, I, like most Canadians, recognize that a person can change and evolve over two decades.
Justin Trudeau’s drive for a more inclusive Canada was one of the main reasons I ran for office under the Liberal banner in 2015. I saw his commitment to breaking down systemic barriers and fighting racism. I believed in it then and, having witnessed him in action over the past four years, I believe in it even more now.
He is the first sitting Prime Minister to acknowledge that systemic racism exists in Canada. He committed Canada to recognize the United Nations Decade for People of African Descent and to carry out the obligations contained in that recognition. His leadership has resulted in a new Canadian Anti-Racism Strategy as well as dedicated funding to address challenges faced by Black Canadians.
But, there is more work to be done. A lot more. I have been speaking with local residents & civic leaders over the past two days, and my hope is that this national conversation will allow us as a country to better understand the experiences of racialized Canadians and to dedicate ourselves to fight racism and discrimination in our society.